Dentists feel the bite

An unprecedented demand is being placed on NHS dentists because people are keeping their teeth longer, an expert is warning.

An unprecedented demand is being placed on NHS dentists because people are keeping their teeth longer, an expert is warning.

Prof Jimmy Steele, a dental consultant at Newcastle University, says in a report published today that the change will "hit the NHS hard in the next decade or so".

His research - along with that of experts at King's College London - found the percentage of people aged 65 to 74 with no natural teeth in 1998 was 36% compared with 79% 30 years earlier. They predict the figure will be 20% to 25% in 2025. He said: "Those people who were born during the early years of the NHS have benefited from regular dental treatment throughout their lives and they have higher expectations as a result.

"They want to keep their teeth, but to do so they will need a lot of professional attention from dental teams who have a sound training in gerodontology, the science of looking after older people's teeth."

Prof Steele wants older people to have extended consultations to plan long-term care and for more dentists to train in gerodontology.

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